An essential challenge for media studies, in a time when newspapers are in crisis and the practice of journalism is more contested than ever before, is to understand the problem of journalistic agency. In this chapter, Martin Eide provides a foundation for examining journalistic agency by charting major shifts in the political economy and professional framework of journalism. Eide argues for renewed attention to accountability journalism – a form of journalism that holds the powerful accountable and is itself accountable to an informed citizenry. For this endeavor, he suggests that we can gain useful insights from scholarly work on the problematic of structuring. It might then be possible to understand the limits of journalistic agency and develop workable versions of accountability journalism. Some have argued that journalism, in a time when “we're all journalists,” should simply be regarded as an activity, rather than as an institution. Eide disagrees, stressing the need to conceive of journalism as a vital social institution that needs to be reoriented toward a more viable future.
While the institution of journalism is in the midst of profound reorientations, lots of people are concerned about the future of quality journalism and democracy. Many believe that high-quality news matters. A prominent spokesman of this view, President Barack Obama, puts it like this:
I am concerned that ...